Resume Writing for the Transitioning Professional

For those of us transitioning from a job that is completely unrelated to nursing, writing a resume can get a bit confusing. What do I include as far as work history? What skills should I list? These are some of the questions we all come across. While everybody is different I hope I can address this problem to help us all master the art of resume writing.


Resume Writing for the Transitioning Professional

So not all of us knew from day one that we wanted to be nurses. Some of us decided to take the scenic route to the career (there is a great article on this here on The Nursing Niche. This route can leave someone feeling a bit behind when it comes to experience, and this feeling only intensifies when it comes to putting this experience on paper for our resume.

Now while yes schooling provides you the knowledge and even a bit of experience in the nursing world, some of us want to try to become employed as a CNA or PCA while trying to obtain our nursing degree.

Whether your a new-grad looking to land your first position as an RN, or a pre-nursing student trying to put your foot in the door to help pay for school as well as gain a bit of experience, writing a resume is the first step to getting you an interview and hopefully getting you the job.

Transferable skills:

One mistake I see quite often is listing out the specific job duties of a previous job/career that is completely unrelated.

For example:

(in a resume applying for a retail management opening)

ABC Recycling Co. - May 2001-September 2010


-Drove assigned route daily to ensure the timely pickup of residential and commercial waste

-Adhered to state and federal regulations while properly disposing of waste at dump sites

-Operated front loading truck valued at $90,000

Now when writing this, I'm sure the individual was thinking "this shows I'm responsible, can follow orders and I'm reliable". While yes it is true, why dance around it by elaborating on these unrelated tasks wasting valuable space on the resume? Hoping that the hiring manager will "read between the lines" is not an effective strategy in landing an interview.

To better convey this message, I always suggest the "combination resume" to those looking to transfer careers. A "combination resume" allows you to better highlight your Transferable skills rather than highlighting the specific tasks.

A sample of a combination resume SKILLS section would look like this

(using the same info as above)



- Operated and maintained equipment valued over $90,000

- Another example from other job, etc, etc.




Using this type of format you are actually doing multiple things effectively. You are saving that valuable space on your resume. You are also highlighting the very skills the job posting was looking for and using your previous experience in other careers to support your claim to those skills.

The Ever Evolving Resume

If there was only one piece of advice I could offer it would be, never throw out or delete a resume and you should never submit the same resume over and over again (okay that's two but you get the point).

When writing your first resume, you should write it as a "Master Copy". Something that can easily be edited and tailored to a specific job posting. When editing your resume for a specific posting its actually good practice to copy the "qualifications", "experience" and any other section that describes exactly what they are looking for and paste those sections into a word document to put up next to your resume.

Next, you want to take those keywords or phrases (i.e. looking for a kind, compassionate, individual who can work with little to no supervision) and insert them directly in your resume (either under skills, experience etc). Preferably you want to put these words towards the top and use them to pull the hiring manager into the rest of your resume. In doing this you can ensure that your resume will effectively convey that YOU have what they are looking for in an employee and that because you meet all the qualifications you should be brought in for further interviewing.

Last but not least... organization

There's no doubt that when you are writing a resume there needs to be a "flow" to it. If you keep in mind that you are writing this resume for someone who is very busy, has a ton of other resumes to read, and is late for lunch, you will be able to keep your statements clear and concise and increase your chances of that manager seeing what they want to see and scheduling the interview.

If the first section of your resume looks like this article, chances are the resume will get a quick glance and then tossed to the side. But if you build that resume to be read with a quick glance at first and then more in-depth for the truly interested it allows you to effectively "bait" the manager in and then reel them in with the rest of the resume.

All in all...

Everybody is different, so everyone's resumes should be different. However this isn't the case, too many people look online or use templates and just change a few words around. This does not make the resume personable and creates a clear barrier between the person on paper and the person you truly are. Word these resumes the same way you would speak with the interviewer. Use templates for formatting only and allow the resume to reflect YOU.

Remember the purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, nothing says you are a true BS'er more than a resume that doesn't match the person it's representing.

Transitioning careers into nursing but have experience in resume writing

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Specializes in LTC and School Health.

This article is great ! Thanks for posting.


991 Posts

Oh crap, I thought this was about someone transitioning to get out of nursing!


331 Posts

Specializes in ICU-my whole life!!.

Good info! Thanks